Samsung, the South Korea mobile giant, has been showing off a flexible smartphone at the Consumer Electronics Show that held on Las Vegas from Jan. 7 to 10. The screen of the phone doesn't appear flexible enough to fold in half like a piece of paper, but it could bend into a tube.
"Our team was able to make a high-resolution display on extremely thin plastic, so instead of glass. So it won't break even if it's dropped and we can actually bend the screen", says Brian Berkeley, senior vice president at Samsung. He even displayed us a videos showing how he bent the screen of the phone.
The screen uses organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. Only a thin layer of these chemicals is needed to produce a bright, colorful screen. They're used in many Samsung phones already, though with glass screens. For the bendable phone, Samsung laid the chemicals over thin plastic instead of glass.
Flexible OLED screens have been demonstrated for years, but the OLED chemicals are extremely sensitive to oxygen, so they need to be completely sealed off from the air. Thus it may be hard for you to use a screen that bends away from your finger.
Think about that: You could pack a bigger screen in your pocket! Is that wonderful and convenient? In a more conventional application, Berkeley demonstrated a phone with a display that's rigid, but bent around the edges of the device, so it can show incoming messages even with a cover over the main screen.
"Do you see how the screen curves beyond the edge of the display around here? With this bended display we have expanded to canvas available for content. Contact can now flow along the sides of the device." Mr Bell agrees, he says this could open up a whole new set of flexible products that fit like a wristwatch.
What about battery life? As OLED screens do not require a backlight, it may well be possible to power just the curved edge of the screen, so constantly displaying a news feed or your Twitter notifications shouldn't have a huge impact on battery life.
Samsung didn't say anything about when flexible displays might be on the market. Samsung also said the prototype lacks a radio, camera and most other features you'd find in a phone, and the operating system is little more than a selection of images resembling mock ups of the company's TouchWiz Android skin.
"The concept of the flexible screen has been around for some time, but it finally looks as if Samsung is really going to deliver on that technology," said Steve Bell, a technology consultant and president of KeySo Global.
Maybe soon in the future we will be able to have such a flexible phone and enjoy the changes it brought to our life.
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